By: Parth Shah, @shah_parth_
What a busy week it has been! With college football bowl announcements, Heisman platforms, the MLS Cup final, the MLB offseason, college basketball, the NHL, and NBA all in full swing, social media teams across the country are hard at work, with some incredible content shining through. As always, let us know what else stood out to you! With that, let's get things started:
1. Belk Bowl
The college football bowl landscape is crowded with numerous different options that fall behind the prestigious big-name games. It can be difficult for these hosts to stand out and draw outside interest not from the participating schools. One avenue for promotion comes from social media, and the Belk Bowl has made a name for itself with its Twitter activity. The person or team behind managing this account simply has fun, commenting on different sporting events and facts, and interacting with followers. One such observation was that overall number 1 seed Alabama would not be paying the bowl game a visit, a fact so obvious that it was funny to see it commented on. The digital team also put together a neat concept with Tinder swiping, conveying that the Belk Bowl is an event that shouldn't be missed. Followers, especially younger ones, love creative content like this, immersed in popular culture and unabashedly funny. Certain organizations or events require this character persona, and the Belk Bowl has decided to adapt a good-natured, fun-loving reputation. Well, they've convinced me. I'll swipe right and watch Arkansas vs. Virginia Tech.
2. University Of Arizona Wildcats
The profile of the University of Arizona has continued to grow in recent years, with the program succeeding in numerous sports and enjoying strong recruiting classes. This quality has also been matched on social media and in the program's marketing efforts, as the brand continues to strengthen. Thank you to John Daley, who pointed out what his Wildcats were doing on social this week on Twitter! The digital team for Arizona had a strong platform centered around Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, with a package including a crisp Adobe Spark information highlight page and a video that is sure to give you goosebumps. It is great to see programs and professional teams recognize history and acknowledge its ties to the present. Arizona also showed its pride in its student-athlete success, with a cool GIF that highlights the great work that the Wildcats are also completing in the classroom, across all sports. This is something that often gets overlooked in college athletics, and it is cool to see the recognition and visibility on such a prominent account. Students first, athletes second. The basketball program that has elevated its profile in recent years also makes this recap, with strong graphic work that would make any social media team happy. The starting lineup GIF feels very personal and video-like, and the victory one is bold and vibrant, or exactly how a win should be portrayed. Keep up the good work in Tucson!
3. Army West Point Football
It had been 14 years since Army had beaten Navy. That streak finally came to an end Saturday as the Black Knights pulled off a historic victory over the Midshipmen. With a win of such magnitude comes a feverous celebration, and the postgame jubilation on the field was one to remember. Army did tremendously on social media as well, with some sharp, beautiful graphics that truly align with their uniform selection for the big game, as well as the Black Knights nickname. The touchdown GIF has a wow factor that many programs simply cannot match in execution, but not because of anything truly fancy. It's bold in its simplicity and animation, and definitely does the trick. The black motif stays true to the program and on-field visual, and sticks out on any timeline. For a game that commands so much respect, I think Army's social media team hit this execution out of the park. The celebration on Twitter was subtle, yet strong. Not overly zealous and extra like many other programs; they stayed composed and respectful, with a strong passion for the game's result. Distinctly Army. Absolutely well done. It's truly an honor to watch these two teams play each other, for all that they sacrifice for our great country. To all those serving, that will serve, or have already served, thank you for your dedication and strength and courage. It doesn't go unnoticed or unappreciated.
4. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks rate as one of the NFL's fastest growing fan bases in terms of engagement, ratings, and sales, riding the wave of strong successes on the field. They have also grown to have one of the best social media team's in sports, with their creativity and fun-loving nature. The account is kept light-hearted in its interactions, and they seem to know what the right buttons are to push in terms of engagement and views. In recent years, the Seahawks and Packers have had some epic matchups, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. The trailer hype video for this weekend's upcoming game is strong; short but to the point, while setting the stage for another memorable visit to Green Bay in the snow. It's content like this that gets fans even more excited, and when they share videos like this, the buzz only grows. Original platform strategies on social media included weekly hashtags, such as Throwback Thursday. Followers love nostalgia. Give it to them! Lastly, Seattle put together an awesome support video for the Seattle Sounders, who ultimately won MLS Cup on Saturday night. The video speaks for itself, just watch it and take in the creativity. Fantastic job.
5. Bud Light Activations
Featured above, the Seahawks have proven to be successful on social with their creativity and personality. They are among a handful of teams that do a great job piggybacking on the league's partnership with ABInBev and promoting the Bud Light #MyTeamCan. Some other fantastic integration examples are highlighted above, including the Panthers and Buccaneers. Each is different in its usage and context, but makes the sponsorship seem more immersed within natural content. Carolina promoting the can as a, "wherever you are" tool is great for building fan loyalty and togetherness of the brand, because fans feel included and as if being at home is just as good as being in the stadium. The Lions continue to win games, and clearly they are the superior can as well. Seattle's portrayal of Marshawn Lynch's "beast-mode" run with the Bud Light cans is one of the coolest videos I've seen to-date, in terms of execution and overall creativity, especially with an advertised product at the core. The Bucs have a similar crushing effect as the Lions, with a whack-a-mole GIF that also disposes of the competition. Juxtaposition of your team performing better than the competition is always a sense of pride. For what it's worth, the Bud Light team cans look sharp, and have been relatively successful so far in terms of sales and social media sharing, as fans post pictures at tailgates, in living rooms, and at stadiums across the country.
6. Did You Know? (courtesy of Mark J. Burns)
Are hashtags dead? #Nope! Take a look at the list that Mark Burns shared this week on Twitter. Teams, naturally the most successful ones in 2016, generated a TON of conversation and hashtag engagement standalone, as fans are still willing to share and brand their content to support their favorite team, program, or event. Strong on-field/court performance is obviously still the biggest determinant, but these teams are also successful on social because of the outlets they offer for fans to share their pride and connection to the organization.
The introduction and growth of hash flags has certainly helped this department, as Tweets now are instantly emoji-fied and have cool logos or designs that accompany big hashtags in sports. Where do you see the future of hashtag engagement going, especially on Twitter and Instagram where a large portion of searchable content is relied on by users?
7. We're Going Bowling! (CFB Bowl Matchups Announced on Social)
- Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Washington Huskies
- PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Clemson Tigers
- Allstate Sugar Bowl: Auburn Tigers vs. Oklahoma Sooners
- Autozone Liberty Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs vs. TCU Horned Frogs
It's finally bowl season! Last Sunday, matchups were announced and teams were given the opportunity to present their accepted invitations creatively on social. Take a look at some of the best graphics and announcement GIFs and videos that programs used to promote the big game. The common theme for college football? Big, bold, and beautiful. All of these are more pompous in nature, given the culture of the sport and the magnitude of the events. Tweet us which other programs stood out to you on social this week with their bowl game matchups!
Thanks for joining us for another week of the Social Media Seven!
Parth Shah is a second year marketing and finance student at Northeastern University's D'Amore-McKim School of Business in Boston, MA. He has a strong passion for social media and digital marketing, as well as a love of sports, which is parlayed into the weekly Social Media Seven. He hopes to pursue a career in sports business, and understands that learning and growing every day is the key to continue moving forward. Outside of the industry, Parth has enjoyed holding many leadership positions, from community service opportunities to high school sports teams to within his fraternity, and is the author of Motivation: A High School Student's Guide to Success.